Mariano Rodriguez

José Mariano Manuel Rodríguez Alvarez. Born on August 24, 1912, in Havana. Member of the so-called Havana School of Painting, an artist committed to the anti-imperialist struggle, it is said that his painting is exuberant, happy, dynamic, essential, there is a reason why the rooster accompanied him from dawn to dawn (he never says goodbye to the sun, he always announces). Plastic artist, self-taught painter, he began painting around 1935, the year in which he received classes from the painter Alberto Peña. In October of this same year he traveled to Mexico with the sculptor Alfredo Lozano. Juan Marinello introduces him to the group of assistants Diego de Rivera, he began his artistic career in the heat of the Mexican muralist movement, which had a great influence on his formation. In 1937 he returned to Cuba and participated as an instructor in the Free Study for Painters and Sculptors. A year later he won third prize with the oil painting Unidad at the II National Exhibition of Painting and Sculpture. In 1939 he co-founded the artistic magazine and
literary Espuela de Plata and in 1944 he was part of the editing committee of the cultural magazine Orígenes. During these years he began to work on the themes that would later characterize his painting, among them, roosters. In 1950 he began making ceramics at the Santiago de Las Vegas Experimental Workshop and a year later he made the important mural of his Human Pain in the Retiro Odontológico building in Vedado, Havana. Between 1960 and 1961 he remained in India on diplomatic work. Upon his return to Cuba, he founded and presided over the plastic arts section of the National Union of Writers and Artists of Cuba (UNEAC) and in 1962 he headed the same department at Casa de las Américas, which he would preside from 1980 to 1982. This year he is dedicated exclusively to painting. In 1975 the National Museum of Fine Arts of Cuba presented an extensive retrospective exhibition and in 1981 an exhibition of selected works was held at the Museum of Modern Art of Mexico. He holds numerous individual exhibitions and participates in more than two hundred group exhibitions, both in Cuba and abroad. He presided over the international jury of the I Havana Biennial in 1984 and exhibited out of competition. In 1986 he was guest of honor at the II Havana Biennial. He traveled to the Canary Islands in 1988 for a retrospective exhibition. In 1981 he received the Félix Varela Order of the first degree, in 1989 the Haydée Santamaría Medal and the title of Doctor Honoris Causa from the University of Havana. Mariano Rodríguez’s fundamental motto was “Live and paint, paint and live”, and so he did, he painted until his last moments, leaving the cultural heritage of our country an important collection of oil paintings, posters and drawings. He died on May 25, 1990 in Havana.

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